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CTA 'Will Give People Plenty Of Time' When They Resume Ventra Transition

By Chuck Sudo in News on Feb 6, 2014 3:10PM

Photo credit: Stephanie Barto

Get ready, public transit riders. Chicago Transit Authority is thisclose to resuming its transition to a Ventra-only fare payment system and the timetable could begin as soon as March. At least, that’s what CTA President Forrest Claypool said at the agency’s monthly meeting Wednesday.

It’s been quiet on the Ventra front in recent weeks since CTA engaged in some CYA and began sharing “performance metrics” Ventra’s contractor Cubic Transportation Systems had to meet in order for the messy transition to resume. Claypool said he’d like to see more tweaks to the system before CTA announces a new timetable. The main benchmarks Cubic needs to meet, according to Claypool, relate to hold times on Ventra’s customer service system and Ventra fare machines and readers actually working. Claypool said Cubic has been meeting these benchmarks regularly since the beginning of the year and CTA is sufficiently satisfied with Ventra’s performance that the agency decided to release some of the payments owed to Cubic.

Claypool stressed that when the transition to a Ventra-only fare system resumes “we’ll give riders plenty of time” to prepare for the switch. CTA halted the original transition Nov. 5 amid a slew of complaints about non-functioning card readers, overcharges, other contactless credit cards being billed for fares and a breakdown of the system during an evening rush hour period that resulted in over 15,000 free rides on CTA’s rail system. At the time, CTA was set to remove the old farecard vending machines so that riders could no longer be able to add value to their farecards or purchase single trip magnetic strip farecards.

Claypool said removing the legacy farecards “is not going to be overnight, that’s for sure.”